The 10 Best Detail Sanders

Updated August 08, 2017 by Chase Brush

10 Best Detail Sanders
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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. When you want to finish off a project perfectly, you need the right tool for the job. One of these detail sanders will give you the fine, smooth surface you want without the time and effort of hand sanding. They're specifically designed and perfect for getting into tight spaces and corners, like at the joints of furniture. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best detail sander on Amazon.

10. Skil 7302-02 Octo

The Skil 7302-02 Octo is a smart tool that monitors the sanding pad pressure applied to help you obtain the optimal finish. It has a clear dust canister with a micro filter that allows you to see when it is time to empty it.
  • quick tool-less attachment change
  • feels a little underpowered
  • not suitable for heavy-duty use
Brand Skil
Model 7302-02
Weight 4.9 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. Trademark Tools 75-50128

The Trademark Tools 75-50128 fits nicely in the palm of the hand, and also has an optional leverage handle to prevent it from sliding off your work area. Unfortunately, its RPM are slow and it takes a while if you're doing any kind of heavy polishing.
  • doesn't overheat with extended use
  • comes with a lot of pads
  • can't fit into really tight corners
Brand Trademark Tools
Model 75-50128
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Black & Decker BDEMS600

The Black & Decker BDEMS600 is super easy to maneuver and gives you complete control, making it ideal for precise sanding. It has a comfortable 3-position palm grip handle and includes a finger attachment for hard-to-reach areas.
  • great size for small hands
  • compact body and low profile legs
  • dust leaks out of the canister
Model BDEMS600
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

7. VonHaus Oscillating Tool

Whether you need to do some detailing work or grind through tile, the VonHaus Oscillating Tool is up to the job. This all-purpose device comes with an E-cut blade for metal, a scraper knife, a sanding base pad and a half moon saw.
  • dust extraction unit
  • protective carry case
  • high vibrations are hard on hands
Brand VonHaus
Model SB325
Weight 5.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Proxxon 28594

The super-fine Proxxon 28594 operates in a linear motion, and includes eight different attachments, including straight shanks and angled shanks, for all of your small jobs. It has electronic speed control, so you can get a very close finish on most stock.
  • three self-adhesive pads
  • ideal for slots and tight corners
  • included sandpaper wears out quickly
Brand Proxxon
Model 28594
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Ryobi ZRCFS1503GK

Making 12,500 orbits per minute, the Ryobi ZRCFS1503GK works quickly and efficiently without breaking the bank. It has a compact design that is easy to store, and features a unique shape that is useful as a pad or corner sander.
  • sturdy and solid construction
  • comes in a stylish carrying case
  • makes a big mess if handled wrong
Brand Ryobi
Model CFS1503GK
Weight 7.8 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Genesis GMT15A

Weighing less than four pounds, the Genesis GMT15A is perfect for all of your DIY projects, including cutting, polishing, scraping, and grinding. It has a sturdy die-cast aluminum gear housing, and is backed by a 2-year warranty.
  • secure four-pin flange design
  • extremely efficient tool
  • included blades aren't very durable
Brand Genesis
Model GMT15A
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Rockwell Sonicrafter

Part of a complete sawing and sanding set, the Rockwell Sonicrafter is perfect for both recreational and professional woodworkers. It has a true random orbit finishing motion that won't leave swirls in corners and other tight spaces, unlike arc and pivot style models.
  • kit includes blades for sawing
  • low vibration design
  • tool-free clamp prevents slipping
Brand Rockwell
Model RK5132K
Weight 5.1 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Wen 6301

The Wen 6301 packs a punch with a powerful one-amp motor that provides 13,500 orbits per minute. It has a lightweight 2-pound design that is easy to take with you to any job site, and comes in at a relatively affordable price.
  • angled tip provides precise results
  • velcro pad for easy attatchments
  • vacuum adapter minimizes mess
Brand WEN
Model 6301
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Festool DTS 400

The compact Festool DTS 400 is the perfect choice for working on vertical and overhead surfaces. It has a short 5/64-inch stroke that creates a super-fine finished surface on almost any kind of material, and its advanced dust extraction system takes care of any messes.
  • full pad contact for better control
  • comfortable and ergonomic grip
  • long removable power cord
Brand Festool
Model DTS 400 EQ
Weight 7.6 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

The Abridged History Of Sanding

While the first mention of "sandpaper" dates to the 13th Century CE, human beings have been using abrasives for thousands of years. An abrasive is simply a material -- often a natural mineral such as rock or an organic compound such as a seashell -- that can be used to smooth and polish another surface when friction is applied. Sanding can help remove imperfections from wood, clay, stone, or other materials, making them more suitable for use as building materials, to make furnishings, decorative items, and more.

Purpose built sandpaper (the kind first referenced in writings dating to the 1200s) was initially made using ground shells, seeds, and sand that was affixed to sheets of parchment using naturally occurring gums sourced from tree resin. The process was laborious and rather costly, and thus sandpaper use was relegated to limited applications.

In the 19th Century, as the Industrial Revolution led to advancements in multiple fields, so too did it lead to the first mast produced paper-based abrasive. Glass paper was developed by a Londoner named John Oakey in 1833. It used a diminutive glass-like ceramic called frit that had myriad sharp edges and points and which could be readily bonded to paper using newly developed adhesives.

Glass paper remained in common use well into the 1900s, before the development of a silicon carbide compound finally replaced the fruit as the chosen abrasive for sanding. Silicon carbide sandpaper actually involves no sand whatsoever, but the word sand has remained the term of art nonetheless.

Just as the Industrial Revolution led to the first mass produced, cheap, effective sandpaper, so to would the era see the first powered mechanical sanding machine. The drum sander was patented in the 1880s and made the process of sanding wood easier than ever before. These large table-like devices used drums to rapidly rotate swathes of abrasive paper and were principally used for making furniture and for finishing lumber.

Throughout the first half of the 20th Century, various sanders were developed and perfected, with ever smaller tools providing adequate power and versatility for a range of uses. By the close of the century, sander technology had reached the levels still enjoyed today, though occasional improvements are still seen, usually in facets such as enhanced speed control and vibration reduction.

The Detail Sander At Work

If you are considering a detail sander, then chances are good that you are a professional craftsman or at least a skilled and experienced Do It Yourself enthusiast. Therefore you know that these tools are not suitable for many types of work such as would be adroitly handled by an orbital sander or belt sander.

A detail sander has little business preparing a door or a table for painting or staining, for example, and it has no business whatsoever sanding down an entire floor prior to refinishing. However a detail sander used in tandem with these other, larger tools can lead to efficient, quality work.

Detail sanders were first seen in wide use in the 1990s, and were a welcome addition to the woodworker's tool chest. A good detail sander can take the place of sandpaper painstakingly used by hand thanks to its ability to get into those tight places a larger sander could never reach. Detail sanders are great for finishing corners or the portion of flooring next to a wall, and are priceless for work preparing or refinishing surfaces such as those of staircases or banisters, window sills and frames, or for wooden moulding.

Mosts detail sanders allow for deft control, so they are safe to use on sensitive surfaces such as antique woods, or to use on or near carefully crafted items such as carved and decorative wooden furnishings.

Many detail sanders are also in fact multitools, capable of much more than simply sanding precise areas of wood. Certain detail sanders can be affixed with myriad plates allowing them to serve as grinders or cutting tools. They can be used to cut through tile and grout, perfect for updating a bathroom, for example, or even to slice through metals or hard plastics, perfect for cutting away extra piping under a sink or bathtub, for example.

Choosing A Sander For The Artisan

The dedicated and demanding woodworker simply must own a detail sander if he or she wants to create high quality works efficiently. Many detail sanders are small enough to be handled almost like a pen (or paintbrush), applying abrasion with nearly surgical precision. Whether you are doing detail work on a miniature ship destined for a bottle or you are refinishing an irreplaceable piece of antique Mission style furniture, a detail sander ensures that you will have maximum control over your project.

Good detail sanders can accommodate many different attachments (often called shanks) and, when paired with sandpaper of the right grit, can be surprisingly powerful. Many detail sanders can easily achieve up 14,000 orbits per minute (often abbreviated to OPM) under moderate load, so they concentrate plenty of pressure where ever you want it. This allows you to work quickly without sacrificing precision.

Make sure to frequently change sandpaper when you are performing sensitive woodworking tasks, as the quality of your work is directly effected by the condition of the sandpaper you're using. Sandpaper is cheap and should be considered highly disposable; that piece of wood you are lovingly shaping should, on the other hand, be treated as priceless and timeless.

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Last updated on August 08, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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